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SA-202 File No: 1-0138 

CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD 

ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT 

Adopted: September 22, 1950 Released- September 26, 1950 



EASTERN AIR LINES, INC. AND P-38 AIR COLL I S I ON — NEAR WASHINGTON 
NATIONAL AIRPORT, WASHINGTON, D. C, NOVEMBER I, I9U9 



THE ACCIDENT 

Eastern Air Lines' Flight 537, a DC-4, 
N-88727, and a P-38 aircraft bearing identi- 
fication NX-26927 collided at approximately 
11 46, 1 November 1, 1949, while both planes 
were on final approach for landing at the 
Washington National Airport, Washington, D C 
All of the 51 passengers, including two 
babies in arms, and the flight crew of four 
in the DC-4 were killed, the pilot of the 
P-38 was seriously injured Both aircraft 
were completely destroyed 

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHTS 

On November 1, 1949, Eastern's Flight 537 
was flying from Boston via intermediate 
points to Washington Over Beltsville, 15 
miles northeast of the Washington National 
airport, it contacted the Washington Control 
Tower on 119 1 megacycles voice communica- 
tions and was cleared by the tower to enter 
a left traffic pattern for landing on Runway 
3 One minute before, at 11 37, the P-38 
flown by Erick Rios Bndoux, a Bolivian 
national, had taken off from Runway 3 at 
Washington National Airport 

Rios was test flying the P-38 for accept- 
ance by the Bolivian Government Previously, 
he had notified the tower through Paul M 
Aubin, that he intended to make the flight 
and that his communications with the tower 
would be accomplished over VHF radio, Channel 
B on 126 18 megacycles Rios also stated 
that he requested Aubin to notify the tower 
to give him a light if radio contact could 
not be established This message was not 
transmitted to the tower and Aubin denied 
hearing Rios make this last request Through- 
out the entire ground operation of the P-38, 
including clearance for take-off, no diffi- 
culty was experienced by either the tower or 

All tunes referred to herein are Eastern Stand- 
ard and based on the 24-hour clock 

Coram — DC— 15354 



Rios in corraiunication Departure of the 
P-38 was noted by the tower to be at 11 37, 
and from that time until after the accident, 
visibility in the vicinity of the airport 
remained at 15 miles, ceiling was 6,500 feet 
with scattered clouds at 3,500, and surface 
wind was from the northeast 20 to 25 miles 
per hour 

Testimony of control tower personnel and 
that of the pilot of the P-38 were in con- 
flict Rios stated that he had taken off not 
from Runway 3, but from Runway 36, turning 
left at an altitude of about 300 feet His 
climb was made, he said, to the north of the 
Pentagon, and because of the erratic opera- 
tion of the right engine, he decided to land 
as soon as possible Continuing to climb to 
about 2,500 feet or more, he made a second 
left turn so as to fly south, parallel to 
Runway 36, and when abeam of the control 
tower, he transmitted, "Washington Tower, 
this is Bolivian P-38 I got engine trouble — 
reouest landing instructions " His testimony 
continues to the effect that because no 
answer was received, he turned left again to 
circle the field where he could see light 
signals from the tower He stated that he 
received none, but that when he was between 
Boiling Field and the National Airport and 
at about 3,500 feet altitude, the tower 
asked, "Bolivian P-38, you were asking land- 
ing ins true tions?" Rios stated that he 
answered, "Yes, I have engine trouble I am 
in a hurry," and that the tower at that time 
responded, "Bolivian P-38 cleared to land, 
number two on Runway 3 " Rios stated that 
the tower did not inform him that the air- 
craft ahead of him was an Eastern DC-4 Rios 
said that he continued to turn left, and at 
a reduced speed of 150 miles per hour, 
started a descent of 500 to 600 feet per min- 
ute, completing a second 360-degree turn 
around the airport until reaching an altitude 
of approximately 2,400 feet 

(1) 



Accident Investigation Report 



Rios said that a downwind leg was flown at 
about 1,500 feet, and when about five miles 
south of the field, he turned left 90 degrees, 
flying east on a short base leg at an alti- 
tude of about 1,200 feet During his down- 
wind leg, he observed a C-60 or C-45 on 
approach to Runway 3 or 36, and while on his 
base leg, he saw it complete its landing and 
turn off the runway to the left Rios made 
a left turn from the base leg to an approach 
course of 20 degrees for landing on Runway 3 
As soon as the turn had been completed, Rios 
transmitted, "Washington Tower, this is 
Bolivian P-38 on approach " The tower re- 
sponded, said Rios, "Bolivian P-38 cleared 
to land on Runway 3 " Rios stated that his 
approach was made a little higher than nor- 
mal, for safety reasons, and that one minute 
after leaving the base leg, he extended the 
flaps, the landing gear having been put down 
previously when he was west of the field 
Rios heard the tower say, "Clear to the left, 
clear to the left," but he stated that he did 
not know for whom it was intended because the 
tower did not use any call sign Almost im- 
mediately afterwards, he felt the shock of 
the collision with the DC-4 

According to control tower personnel, the 
P-38 took off from Runway 3, turned left, and 
proceeded in a climb 10 miles west of the 
field Then a second left turn was made, and 
the aircraft, still climbing, continued in a 
southerly direction The P-38 was next ob- 
served from the control tower circling left, 
south of Alexandria at an estimated altitude 
between 3,000 and 4,000 feet The tower 
operators stated that while the P-38 was 
circling south of Alexandria, they received, 
"Washington Tower, this is Bolivian 927 re- 
questing landing instruction " After the 
controller had asked if Bolivian 927 had re- 
quested landing instructions, and the pilot 
had replied affirmatively, the controller 
instructed the P-38 to enter a left traffic 
pattern for Runway 3 and to report when west 
of the tower on downwind leg When the in- 
struction was not acknowledged by Rios, it 
was repeated Prior to these instructions, 
the tower had cleared the Eastern flight to 
land number one on Runway 3 

Shortly after the Eastern DC-4 was ob- 
served 1 1/2 miles *re st to southwest from the 
end of Runway 3, making a continuous left 
turn from the downwind leg to final approach, 
tower personnel observed the P-38 on a long 
— 15354 



high final approach The controller there- 
upon requested Rios to make a 360-degree 
turn to his left, saying that he was number 
two to land following an Eastern DC-4 turn- 
ing on its final approach below Since 
there was neither acknowledgment nor com- 
pliance with this second instruction, another 
transmission was made to the P-38, which was 
identified as Bolivian 927, and Rios was 
then told "Turn left, turn left," and was 
again told that the DC-4 was turning on final 
approach below Again there was no response 
or compliance by the P-38, whereupon the 
tower then instructed the Eastern DC-4 to 
turn left The DC-4 promptly acted m re- 
sponse to this instruction, but before 5 
degrees of turn were made, the two aircraft 
collided at an approximate altitude of 300 
feet about 1/2 mile southwest of Runway 3 

In addition to the foregoing, there were 
two additional sources of information as to 
the communications between the tower and the 
two planes involved in the collision 

National Airlines' Flight 53, a DC-4 fly- 
ing the same route as the Eastern flight, 
received when over Beltsville at approxi- 
mately 11 41 a clearance from the Washington 
National Control Tower to enter the traffic 
pattern The copilot of this flight stated 
that lmnediately before, he had overheard 
the Washington tower give the Eastern flight 
a clearance to enter the traffic pattern 
At about 11 44, three minutes after the 
National plane had received its clearance to 
enter the traffic pattern (Eastern's EC-4 
was at this time north of the airport m the 
traffic pattern on its downwind leg), the 
National copilot heard the tower tell the 
Eastern crew that there was a P-38 in traf- 
fic The National copilot further stated 
that about two minutes after this transmis- 
sion to the Eastern flight, he overheard the 
tower tell the Eastern flight in a rather 
alarmed voice, "Look out for the P-38 " 
(Eastern at this time had just completed its 
turn onto final) He did not recall hearing 
a request for landing instruction or the 
tower giving landing instructions to the 
Eastern crew The captain in the National 
DC-4 had no recollection of these transmis- 
sions described by the copilot 

Sgt William S Buckwalter, who was serv- 
ing as a controller m the Boiling Field 
tower, which had a speaker tuned to Channel 
B, testified that he heard an alarmed voice 



Accident Investigation Report 



saying, "Bolivian, Bolivian, Bolivian, " and 
looked up just in time to see the crash He 
also remembered having previously heard rou- 
tine landing instructions transmitted to the 
P-38, but did not recall hearing any acknowl- 
edgments of such instructions 

RECONSTRUCTION OF EVENTS 

From the testimony summarized above and 
from all other evidence which was received 
during the course of the investigation and 
hearing, the following events and their se- 
cuence appear to be supported by the prepon- 
derance of evidence 

Following take-off, Rios climbed straight 
ahead to approximately 300 feet, then turned 
left and continued to climb on a westerly 
heading In the turn, engine speed and mani- 
fold pressure of the right engine became er- 
ratic, so Rios decided to land as soon as 
possible Rios, however, did not believe 
this erratic operation of the right engine 
was serious enough to warrant any emergency 
action He attained an altitude of 3,500 
feet on the westerly heading, leveled off, 
turned left for a second time, and then flew 
south The weight of the evidence irtdicates 
that Rios was confused as to his location and 
that the tower personnel were correct in 
their statements that the P-38 was circling 
at a high altitude about 5 miles south of 
National Airport Rios was unable to iden- 
tify any landmarks south of the airport and 
stated that "this {i e , navigation by land- 
marks) is not my way to fly I do not take 
care of the small details on the ground " 
W T Snead, a witness with considerable ex- 
perience in aviation, 2 observed from the 
Hybla Valley Airport, near Alexandria, a P-38 
flying with its landing gear up at about 
3,000 or 4,000 feet in the vicinity of Alex- 
andria Thus, the weight of the evidence in- 
dicates that Rios circled at a high altitude 
about 5 miles south of the airport and made a 
long, high final approach toward Runway 3 A 
direct approach from this location and altitude 
would, of course, require a rapid rate of de- 
scent in order to reach the end of Runway 3 



2 Snead is a flight instructor at the Hybla Val- 
ley Airport 



The evidence shows that the traffic around 
the Washington National Airport was light 
during the critical period, 11 37 to 11 46, 
and the only aircraft other than the P-38 
and Eastern's Flight 537 which could have 
constituted landing traffic was a United 
States Air Force B-25 which made a practice 
instrument approach to Runway 36 This air- 
craft, however, according to the landing 
records, passed over the field without land- 
ing at 11 43, about three minutes before the 
accident 

A careful scrutiny of the tower's records 
(which record every aircraft take-off and 
landing at National Airport) fails to reveal 
any C-45, C-60, or similar aircraft which 
landed during the period of the flight of the 
P-38 Neither the tower personnel, the rep- 
resentatives of the Bolivian Government who 
were watching the flight, nor other eye wit- 
nesses were able to recall seeing such an 
aircraft land 

At approximately 11 44, Eastern's Flight 
537 was cleared to land number one on Runway 
3 This clearance was given when Eastern 
was on its downwind leg west of the field 
Eastern made a continuous turn from its down- 
wind leg west of of the field to a final 
approach to Runway 3 During this turn, the 
P-38 was south of the end of Runway 3 on a 
high straight-m approach for landing on the 
same runway on which Eastern had been cleared 
to land— runway 3 

Following the DC-4's clearance to land, 
instructions were given to Rios to enter left 
traffic pattern and to call the tower when 
west of the field These instructions, al- 
though repeated by the tower, were neither 
acknowledged nor complied with Instead, the 
P-38 started a straight- in approach on an 
approximate heading of 20 degrees Rios was 
then requested to make a 360 -degree turn to 
the left and to land number two following 
the Eastern DC- 4 turning on final approach 
below him 

As the Eastern DC-4 rolled out of its 
left turn onto final approach, approximately 
3/4 mile from the end of Runway 3, and as 
the P-38 continued to descend above and be- 
hind the DC-4, the tower transmitted to Rios 
either, "Turn left, turn left," or "Clear 



— 15354 



Accident Investigation Report 



to the left, clear to the left "3 Since the 
P-38 still did not comply, and a collision 
now appeared imminent, the tower switched to 
the DC-4 frequency^ and instructed the 
Eastern crew to turn left because a P-38 was 
on the approach behind them The Eastern 
flight responded immediately by applying 
power, leveling off, and turning left But, 
before more than 5 degrees of turn were made, 
the two aircraft collided at a point in line 
with and 1/2 mile from the approach end of 
Runway 3 at an altitude of 300 feet 

TRAFFIC PATTERN AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL 
AIRPORT 

A full understanding of the facts sur- 
rounding this accident requires consideration 
of the traffic pattern which was in effect at 
the Washington National Airport at the time 
oi the accident This pattern which had been 
originally designed to provide an orderly 
flow of traffic was modified to reduce noise 
over the congested area around the airport 
The pattern as approved and published by the 
Administrator 5 reouired an aircraft when 
approaching from the northeast for landing on 
Runway 3 to fly west until west of the Pen- 
tagon, then south so as to pass south of the 
City of Alexandria, then north over the 
Potomac River, turning left so as to arrive 
over the Potomac Railroad Yards from where a 
right turn could be made to line up with Run- 
way 3 The flight path, as described, was 
to be flown at a minimum altitude of 1,200 
feet until the aircraft arrived over the 
Potomac River 

Investigation disclosed that because the 
Washington traffic pattern was long, involved, 

^ It is impossible to determine which of these 
warnings was given, (or whether the call sign "Bo- 
livian 927" was used) due to the lack of corrobor- 
ating evidence There were no recordings of any 
of the conversations with the P-38 because they were" 
made from the "A" position (Local Control Position) 
The CAA did not have sufficient funds to record 
all positions, and priority was given to the "C" 
position (Approach Control Position) and the radar 
position (Ground Control Approach Position) \This 
policy was established during the Summer of 1949, 
several months before the collision 

The P-38 was on a frequency of 126 18 mega- 
cycles, while Eastern was on a frequency of 119 1 
megacycles, and, consequently, neither plane could 
hear the transmissions between the tower and the 
other plane However, simultaneous transmissions 
could have been made on both frequencies if the 
operator had simply held two frequency toggle 
switches "on" instead of one 

See Appendix I 

— 15354 



and required an S-turn on final approach for 
landing on Runway 3, it was not consistently 
followed A general practice, which became 
common usage, was to turn to final approach 
for Runway 3 from a downwind leg which was 
flown relatively close to the airport It 
was the general undei standing among pilots 
and tower personnel that permission from the 
tower to turn to final approach was implied 
by the tower's clearance to land number one, 
that is, that "clear to land number one" 
meant "clear to turn to final approach and 
land " 

ANALYSIS 

Conceivably, a good part of the tower's 
instructions to the P-38 may not have been 
received If Rios had been calling the 
tower at the same time the tower was attempt- 
ing to give him instructions, neither the 
tower nor Rios would have received the in- 
tended messages, since the transmission and 
reception on any one particular radio fre- 
quency cannot be effected simultaneously 
However that may be, a landing approach 
should not have been initiated until clear- 
ance to land was received Although Rios 
stated that he had been given a clearance to 
land, the preponderance of testimony abdi- 
cates he was given clearance to enter traf- 
fic pattern only The first clearance to 
Rios was to enter a left traffic pattern and 
the later clearance, not given until after a 
landing approach was started, was to land 
number two behind an Eastern DC-4 He was 
never given a clearance to land number one 

It is also possible that Rios, when he 
was told to enter the left traffic pattern 
and later to land number two following the 
Eastern DC-4, believed that the B-25 which 
had made a simulated instrument approach to 
Runway 36 was the number one aircraft that 
had been referred to by the tower However, 
Rios insisted that he saw the number one air- 
craft land and taxi off the runway to the 
left whereas the B-25 passed over the runway 
without landing Moreover, Rios stated that 
he did not see a B-25 but a C-45 or C-60 and 
that because of his Air Force training in 
aircraft recognition, it would be difficult 
for him to be confused on this point The 
evidence clearly indicates that no C-45 or 
C-60 landed at that time 

Even assuming that Rios was confused as 
to which aircraft was number one, the fact 



Accident Investigation Report 



remains that a clearance to land number one 
was not given to Rios Weather at the time 
was clear, and the DC-4 could have been ob- 
served with the exercise of reasonable care 
even if Rios had not received the advisory 
information from the tower to the effect 
that Eastern was on base leg ahead of and be- 
low him For although visibility from the 
cockpit of the P-38 was limited in a forward 
and downward direction, the aircraft could 
readily have been maneuvered so that any air- 
craft ahead could have been seen Since Rios 
was making a long, high final approach, he 
should have maneuvered the P-38 so that he 
could make sure that there were no aircraft 
in front of him Even accepting Rios' state- 
ment that he flew a downwind leg, a base leg, and 
then made a final approach which was only a few 
hundred feet higher than a normal approach, 
the fact remains that he could easily have 
seen the DC-4 while he was on his base leg 
and should have kept track of its position 
Acccrdmgly, it must be concluded that the 
landing approach of the P-38 was made not 
only without assurance from the tower that 
there was no conflicting traffic, but also 
without the exercise of the vigilance recfuired 
in initiating and pursuing his long, very 
steep straight- m final approach As a re- 
sult, the P-38 overtook and struck the DC-4 

The full examination of the facts and cir- 
cumstances of this accident cannot, however, 
terminate with the conclusion as to the re- 
sponsibility of Rios Consideration must 
also be given to the actions of the Eastern 
crew and the control tower Insofar as 
Eastern's flight is concerned, it had a 
clearance to land number one which, as pre- 
viously explained, is conmonly understood by 
the tower and airline crews serving Washing- 
ton as a clearance to turn to a final approach, 
and as an indication from the tower that the 
approach path is clear The crew of the DC-4, 
therefore, could reasonably have expected to 
be able to complete their approach and land- 
ing without interference from other aircraft 
Although the Eastern crew had a duty to main- 
tain a reasonable lookout under all the cir- 
cumstances, in view of the fact that during 
the critical period they were engaged m 
turning from downwind leg to final approach, 
and that they were engrossed in the task of 
landing, for which they had been cleared, the 
crew did not act in a manner inconsistent 
with such duty if under these circumstances 



they failed to observe the P-38 And if the 
crew of the DC-4 had observed the P-38, they 
could not reasonably have been expected to 
conclude that the P-38 constituted conflict- 
ing traffic in relation to the DC-4 

It remains to be determined whether those 
in the control tower discharged their duties 
as prescribed by Civil Air Regulations and 
by the Administrator's rules The Civil Air 
Regulations require all flights to conform 
with air traffic control instructions and 
the Administrator's rules, which supplement 
the regulations, provide that an airport 
traffic controller shall issue clearances and 
other information which may be necessary for 
the prevention of collision ' Duties of the 
control tower personnel, therefore, include 
alertness for the presence of all aircraft 
in a traffic pattern and advice to pilots 
engaged m landing aircraft of the presence 
and position of other aircraft which might 
constitute a collision hazard 

According to the testimony of the tower 
operators, the P-38 started its " straight - 
m" approach five miles or more from the end 
of the runway 8 At an air speed of 150 mph. 
which Rios testified he had, it would require 
approximately 1 3/4 minutes for him to fly 
to the point of the collision During this 
time, the flaps and gear of the P-38 were 
extended, and the airplane descended rapidly 
as it flew toward the end of Runway 3 
Eastern, having been given a clearance to 
land number one, actually was turning from 
its downwind leg to final approach When the 
P-38 did not comply with the "Turn left, 
turn left," or "Clear to the left, clear to 
the left," radio communications, the tower 
then warned Eastern Two other alternative 
or additional courses of action were avail- 
able to the tower in an effort to persuade 
Rios to discontinue his approach or otherwise 
to avoid the disaster The first was the use 
of the red light after Rios failed to ac- 
knowledge or comply with the second instruc- 
tion from the tower to make a holding turn 

6 Civil Air Regulations 60 19 Air Traffic control 
instructions "No person shall operate an aircraft 
contrary to air traffic control instructions in 
areas where air traffic control is exercised " 

7 Section 26 26-65 (Administrator's Rules) "An 
airport traffic controller shall issue such traffic 
clearances and other information as are necessary 
for the prevention of collisions between aircraft 
under his jurisdiction " 

8 Transcript of Testimony, pp 98, 182 



— 15354 



6 



Accident Investigation Report 



The second was the earlier use of the radio 
to warn Eastern An accurate appraisal of 
whether either or both of these courses of 

action should have been employed or would 
have averted the disaster requires the as- 
sessment of facts with a precision not pos- 
sible from the record 

The use of the red light might have al- 
tered Rios' course and avoided the accident 
On the other hand it might have confused the 
crew of Eastern, as the tower feared it 
would, and hastened the accident Rios might 
not have seen the light, or having seen it 
disregarded it 

Eastern might have received an earlier in- 
struction to alter its course The accident 
might have thus been avoided On the other 
hand, Rios' rapid pursuit of his conduct to 
the point of apparent collision left only 
seconds available for observation and deci- 
sion The tower relied upon radio contact 
with Rios and the control of his actions 
Such contact had been established only a mat- 
ter of one or two minutes before, the re- 
sponse had been slow but there was reception 
It can not be said With certainty whether the 
moment when this course of action should have 
been abandoned became apparent m sufficient 
time to make another course of action effec- 
tive 

We impute poor judgment to the tower m 
its adherence to the single course of guiding 
and corrective action which it selected even 
though normally it had every right to expect 
such action to be effective Full alertness 
and dispatch on the part of personnel trained 
to anticipate and cope with critical traffic 
situations called for an earlier effort to 
notify Eastern's pilot of the position and 
course of the P-38 m an additional effort to 
avoid the collision We can not, however, 
under all the circumstances and particularly 
Rios' unpredictable actions, assert that a 
different or additional course of action by 
the tower in the time available to it to rea- 
sonably select such action, would have 
averted the accident 

FINDINGS 

1 Eastern Airlines, its crew, and its 
aircraft were properly certificated 

2 Enck Rios Bridoux held a valid lim- 
ited pilot certificate issued by the Adminis- 
trator of Civil Aeronautics, but the aircraft 
which he flew was not certificated, nor had 

— 15354 



any authorization been given by the United 
States Government for its flight of Novem- 
ber 1 

3 No difficulty was experienced in the 
operation of the Eastern Air Lines' DC-4 or 
any of its components, including the radio 

4 Other than the erratic engine speed 
and manifold pressure of the right engine of 
the P-38, there was no mechanical trouble 
experienced in its operation 

5 Visibility in the vicinity of the 
Washington National Airport at the time of 
the accident was 15 miles, ceiling was 6,500 
feet, and surface wind was from the northeast 
at 20 to 25 miles per hour 

6 Approximately two minutes before the 
collision, Eastern Air Lines' DC-4 was on 
downwind leg, at which time it was cleared to 
land number one on Runway 3 

7 The P-38 was 2 1/2 to 3 miles south of 
the end of Runway 3 on a high straight- m 
approach to that runway when the tower ob- 
served the Eastern flight in a continuous 
turn from the downwind leg to the final ap- 
proach about 1 1/2 miles west i,o southwest of 
the approach end of Runway 3 

8 The pilot of the P-38 attempted to 
land the airplane without obtaining the re- 
auired clearance from the tower, and without 
maintaining a proper lookout for other air- 
craft 

9 The P-38 and the Eastern DC- 4 collided 
at a point m line with and 1/2 mile from 
the approach end of Runway 3 at an altitude 
of 300 feet 

10 The tower did not act with the requi- 
site alertness and promptness m communicat- 
ing to Eastern the position of the P-38 in 
the critical traffic situation which con- 
fronted it, but this cannot be said to have 
contributed to the cause of the accident 

PROBABLE CAUSE 

The Board determines that the probable 
cause of this accident was the execution of a 
straight- in final approach by the P~38 pilot 
without obtaining proper clearance to land 
and without exercising necessary vigilance 

BY IRE CIVIL AERCNAUITCS BOARD 

/a/ OSWALD RYAN 

/s/ JOSH LEE 

/a/ HAROLD A JONES 

/a/ RUSSELL B ADAMS 



INVESTIGATION AND HEARING 

The Civil Aeronautics Board was notified 
of this accident at 11 57 EST, November 1, 

1949, by telephone from the Washington Na- 
tional Airport An investigation was immedi- 
ately initiated in accordance with the provi- 
sions of section 702(a)(2) of the Civil Aero- 
nautics Act of 1938, as amended A public 
hearing was ordered by the Board and was held 
in Washington, D C , November 9, 10, 11, 12, 
and 14, 1949 After the hearing, the Board 
continued its investigation by gathering ad- 
ditional evidence and by taking depositions 
of additional witnesses 

AIR CARRIER 

Eastern Air Lines, Inc , is a Delaware 
corporation and operates as an air carrier 
under a certificate of convenience and neces- 
sity and an air carrier operating certificate 
issued pursuant to the Civil Aeronautics Act 
of 1938, as amended These certificates au- 
thorized Eastern Air Lines to engage in air 
transportation jvith respect to persons and 
property between various points in the United 
States, including Washington National Air- 
port, Washington, D C 

FLIGHT PERSONNEL 

Captam George Ray, age 33, was employed 
by Eastern Air Lines December 27, 1937, as a 
mechanic and was employed July 1, 1939, as a 
pilot He received basic training during the 
years of 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1937 Mr Ray 
was promoted to captain on October 6, 1941 
He held a valid airline transport pilot rat- 
ing Certificate No 32731 His last CM 
physical examination was successfully passed 
May 16, 1949 Captain Ray had a total of 
9,033 flying hours, of which 838 hours were 
in DC-4 type equipment 

Pilot Charles R Hazel wood, age 28, was 
employed by Eastern Air Lines as a pilot 
March 22, 1946 He had received his basic 
training with the U S Air Forces Mr 
Hazelwood had successfully passed his last 
CAA physical examination February 8, 1949 
He held a valid commercial pilot Certificate 
No 267897 Of his total flying hours of 
4,396, 26 hours were in DC-4 type equipment 

Erick Rios Bridoux, the pilot of the P-38, 
was a citizen of Bolivia but had a good com- 
mand of the English language His flight 
training started in 1938 in his own country, 
— 15354 



and from 1942 through 1945, he received addi- 
tional flight training with the US Air 
Forces In addition to the above, Mr Rios 
received instructional training with a U S 
air carrier and with the CAA Mr Rios was 
issued a limited pilot certificate by the CAA 
July 30, 1947 At one time, Rios failed an 
examination for an airline transport pilot 
certificate However, such a certificate was 
not necessary to fly a P-38 because n limited 
pilot certificate permitted Rios to pilot 
multi-engine aircraft except that passengers 
and goods could not be carried for hire Be- 
fore Mr Rios had been granted the limited 
pilot certificate, he passed an oral examina- 
tion on the contents of the portion of the 
Civil Air Regulations pertaining to air traf- 
fic rules This oral examination also showed 
that Rios had the ability to speak and under- 
stand the English language The information 
for his application showed that he had a to- 
tal of 3,600 flight hours, and he had re- 
ported a total of 80 hours in P-38- type air- 
craft 

1HE AIRCRAFT 

N-88727 was a currently certificated DC-4 
aircraft model C54B-DC It had a total of 
12,161 hours of flight time An examination 
of all Eastern Air Lines' maintenance records 
pertaining to N-88727 indicates that the air- 
craft was in an airworthy condition until the 
time of the accident No mechanical discrep- 
ancies of any nature had been reported for 
the flight from Boston to New York, and none 
are known to have occurred during the flight 
to Washington 

The P-38 had been delivered to the Army 
Air Force on April 13, 1945, by the manufac- 
turer, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, and 
shortly after, it was declared war surplus 
At that time, it had a total of 15 hours 
flight time The aircraft was transferred to 
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation Janu- 
ary 4, 1946, and stored at Walnut Ridge, Arkan- 
sas, Army Air Forces Base The aircraft was 
flown to Seymour, Indiana, in 1946, where it re- 
mained until the first of October, 1949, when 
purchased by Universal Air Marine and Supply 
Company for the Bolivian Government The owner- 
ship of the P-38 is the subject of a legal dis- 
pute The Board takes no position on this ques- 
tion because it is not pertinent to the Board's in- 
vestigation of the probable cause of the accident 

(I) 



II 



Supplemental Data 



Complete records were not available for 
the P-38, the only ones being found consist- 
ing of Army forms, CM registration certifi- 
cates, two periodic inspection reports, and a 
ferry permit These records show that the 
aircraft had been built for the military 
services, had been declared surplus, and had 
been sold by the War Assets Corporation 
Later, it was given an NX certificate for 
participation in the National Air Races On 
October 3, 1949, a second periodic inspection 
was performed on the aircraft for the issu- 
ance of a ferry permit for a flight from Sey- 
mour, Indiana, to Schrom Field, Maryland 
None of the above certificates or periodic 
inspections were current at the time of the 
November 1 flight, and no authorization of 
any type from the Administrator has been 
found during the course of this investigation 
which would have authorized the aircraft to 
be flown at the time of the accident 

During the time the P-38 had been on the 
Washington National Airport, two external 
165-gallon fuel tanks had been installed, and 
maintenance work had been accomplished on the 
hydraulic and fuel systems and on the radio 
equipment Insofar as the actual operation 
of the aircraft during the flight was con- 
cerned, no evidence of any malfunction has 

— 15354 



been found other than the erratic operation 
of the right engine, which Mr Bios de- 
scribed 

INVESTIGATION OF THE WRECKAGE 

Examination of the DC-4 fuselage showed 
that it had been cut by the left propeller of 
the P-38 at station 524, which is just for- 
ward of the trailing edge of the wing This 
cut extended on both sides of the fuselage 
from the top down to the emergency escape 
hatches From the emergency escape hatches 
for the remainder of the way around the fuse- 
lage, the structure had been torn in two 
The aft portion of the aircraft, from station 
524 rearward, fell on the west bank of the 
Potomac River, and numerous small pieces were 
found m the Potomac Railroad Yards and on 
the adjacent highway The forward portion of 
the aircraft fell into the river The P-38 
had dived into the river from the point of 
collision Matching and mating of the vari- 
ous parts of the DC-4 fuselage, and a study 
of markings on the structure of both the DC-4 
and the P-38 showed that the P-38, at the 
time of impact, was at a lateral angle of 
three degrees to the right of the longitudi- 
nal axis of the DC-4 with the left engine 
nacelle centered- over the DC-4 



r\z?' 



Patterns are designed lor landings on each runway under VFR conditions 
(Caution Note) Heavy traffic at Anacostia, Boiling, and Andrews Field, and the 
area between them 

Remain as high as possible over residential areas and descend over water 
whenever possible When landing in the Northern Quadrant pass to the south of the 
City of Alexandria whenever possible Runway 18-36 will be utilized as much as pos 
sible Takeoff 6n Runway 21 or landing on Runway 3 will be utilized infrequently, 
depending on the force of the wind 

Landing on Runway 36 

1 Standard left hand pattern remain above 1200* until over the Potomac River 
and on final approach 

2 (l >on Request) Southwest bound traffic may 
c^8£ well to the east of Anacostia ana Boiling Fields 



I Pemain above 1200* until over Potomac River, make approach over 
Potomac River, make left turn upon passing PEPCO plant, and line up with Runway 3 
Landing on Runway 9 

1 Standard left hand pattern remain above 1200 ! until turning on final approach 
Landing on Runway 15 

1 Northwest bound, north boiind, right hand pattern remain above 1200* until 
turning on base leg west of Pentagon 

2 Southwest bound flight may proceed either via easi of tne Capitol or via the 
Northwest Passage Flights to remain above 1200' until east of Capitol or over the 
river at the Georgetown Reservoir (Pilots to advise on "in .range" report which is 



3 (Upon Request) Left turn, in may be made - remain above 1200 1 until on 
base leg or west of Pentagon 



1 Northwest bound and north bound - right hand pattern - remain above 1200* 

until over iss Potomac River on base leg Follow a pattern to the west and north of 



2 Southwest bound flights may proceed either via east of the Capitol or via the 
Northwest Passage Flights to remain above 1200 s until east of Capitol or over the 
river at the Georgetown Reservoir (Pilots to advise on "in range" report which is 
desired) 

3. ( Upon Request ) Left turn in may be made - avoid restricted area 
Landing on Runway 21 

1. Southwest bound - remain above 1200 8 until pass the Washington National 
Guard Armory 

2. Southeast bound, northeast bound and north bound - remain above 1200 e until 
turning on base leg or east of Anacostia and Boiling Fields 

3 (Upon Request) Right turn in remaining above 1200 s until over the river 
past Georgetown Reservoir 

Landing on Runway 27 

1 Left hand pattern - remain above 1200' until on final approach 

2. (Upon Request) Right hand pattern - for southwest bound flights only 

Landing on Runway 33 

1. Left hand pattern - remain above 1200 s until on final approach or over the 
Potomac River 

2. (Upon Request) Right hand pattern - for southwest bound flights Proceed 
east of Anacostia and Boiling Fields and remain above 1200' until on final approach. 



WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT 



APPROACH AND 
LANDING PATTERN 




t\ 



LEGEND 
»- » '■■■ STANDARD - 
• — s>* BY REQUEST